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Worldcon Sunday

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
Well, here we are, and Worldcon is pretty much history.

Let's see - today. I had a panel at 12, so I sat in on another panel earlier in the morning (one called "Gibberish", on "alien" and other odd languages, and it was a very lively panel indeed with lots of discussion on languages from Klingon to the hundreds of newly discovered and mostly unrelated languages in Papua New Guinea (with a side order of Japanese and its peculiar writing systems). I meandered down to the noon panel only to discover that the panelists outnumbered the audience and thus everyone there (who was obviously interested in the subject) repaired to lunch instead to discuss it amongst ourselves. In all fairness it was the kind of panel that should have attracted a much larger audience but it was stuck in a bad room in the back of everything, and hard to find, and less than ideally signposted - and it was a Sunday panel at lunchtime and the convention was starting to fragment as people began to pursue other interests and peeled off to do stuff in, you know, JAPAN. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and then I detoured down to the waterfront, took some nice pics of our wonderful futuristic hotel, missed taking a photograph of half a dozen young women wearing Sailor Moon school uniform type outfits who sailed past me into the crowds, and returned to the convention centre around 2-ish to see if anyone had signed up for my Kaffeeklatsch at 4. My faithful companions green_knight and carl_allery were there, and so was a young man who was a Japanese translator who came in out of the blue, and so was Pat Macewen with whom I finally managed to connect at the con - and we were apparently having a good enough time over at our table that Michael Whelan, Artist GOH at this convention and the other Kaffeeklatsch host in the same room, had to peer over the partition that divided his table from ours to see what we were up to as we shrieked with laughter at some shared joke - and our table discussed cats, writing, languages, cultural experiences, encounters with weird bugs, Japlish signs (Pat contributed one from above a fridge in a hostelry she was saying at, "Please refrain from consuming others") and all that stuff. Then we were given the signal to quit by a kimono-clad young lady who came in bearing a handwritten sign which said "Finish!", and it was over, and that was Worldcon.

I brought in a heap of my little Worldweavers promotional post-its and they all went sometime between the beginning of the Hugo awards ceremony and the end of the Kaffeeklatsch, as did most of my bookmarks - all to the good. I met some interesting people and made some potentially good contacts and learned a few things that might be of interest in the days to come - but I was now free to roam Japan. carl_allery and green_knight and I repaired for dinner at a Japanese steak house and much fun was had with the menu, ENTIRELY in Japanese. We managed to get food, and it all panned out, but the random drink that green_knight pointed to on the menu was not as much of a success, turning out to be some kind of a non-alcoholic beer which was emphatically not what she had expected or wished for. So afterwards we went out and got dessert, drowning our sorrows in servings of delicious ice cream served by a crew of young women who worked while singing Disney ditties in Japanese ("Supercallifragilisticexpiallidocious" became something... quite different... and there's something totally surreal to listening to Japanese lyrics put to "Camptown Races" but which retained the unmistakable "doo daah, doo daah" as the refrain. The ice cream was great, though.

We came back via the waterfront again, took pictures of the magnificent Intercontinental glowing like a jewelled spaceship against the night, sat talking of cats and dogs and horses and people in the foyer for a while, and then went our separate ways. Tomorrow morning the plan is to meet at Yokohama station and go visit the Kamakura Buddha.

Breakfast at 8 AM. Tourist hat on. Report and pictures to come.

Over and out.

Days 2 and 3 - worldcon, redux

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
These were pretty much the heaviest "programming" days of the convention for me.

On Friday, the 31st, I started out with an autographing session - and it was predictable that, with a dealer's room that was pretty much bereft of English books and the fact that people basically came to Japan with minimal luggage anyway and have no wish to add to it, there was a dearth of actual books that wanted to be signed. But a bunch of people came by with their program books and convention booklets and wanted those signed - and some of them managed to make their intentions clear only by smiling and gesticulating. A Japanese professor came by and appeared to express an interest in YA literature and in teaching same as educational tools - and was VERY interested in my stuff - but just exactly in what way it was hard to tell. He said that he would email me, and gave me his card, and bowed a lot, and we left it at that - perhaps he'll be a little more articulate in email when he has a chance to actually take his time with the language.

Then I had a panel at noon, "Unexplored Alternate Histories". It was my first panel, and it was a doozy because it was one of the sim-translated ones, with everything any of the panelists said being translated into Japanese by a translator sitting across from us, and he was AWESOME, and extremely erudite and fluent and polite. It was an interesting panel and lots of interesting points were raised - and translated - including the "history is written by the winner" dictum, especially poignant seeing as we were literally sitting in the halls of one of the "losers" of the Second World War, whose view of that conflict would probably differ radically from that which the Westerners had brought into the room.

At four that afternoon I signed up to attend a Japanese tea ceremony, performed by several ladies in kimonos with esoteric looking tools with lots of lacquerwork and enamel - tea was prepared in front of us to show us how it was done (very fine green tea, nearly boiling water as opposed to boiling, to preserve flavour and the vitamin C, and then whisked into a lather with a wickerwork whisk) and then instructed how to properly accept the tea and drink it and return the bowl to the hostess. Then they asked for a volunteer to make a batch of tea and I leapt at it and whisked up a green storm - it's harder than it looks - and green_knight took pictures as evidence which she promised to send when she gets a chance ('cept her wireless mojo is not working and her machine won't connect to the network in the hotel or the conference centre which is annoying her mightily). Then carl_allery decided that she felt a little bunged up and sniffly and retired to bed early, leaving green_knight and me to find supper (which we did, in a FUNKY little "italian" restaurant in the shopping complex next door to the conference centre), and then spent hours sitting out in the balmy night in the coruscating shadow of Yokohama's giant ferris wheel (of which I have lots of pictures) and just talking.

After breakfast in our room the following morning (decadent stuff, this) I wandered down to the conference centre for another panel ("Research 101") with Stanley Schmidt and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, which I moderated - and we had a good time with it, with a good spread of interests and experience in the three panelists which managed to cover a lot of ground. Then I went to a panel on "locations", which was a discussion on how place and setting affect a story, and after THAT I was on a panel on "Making writing more vivid and memorable" which I told jaylake that he was to moderate as penance for the fact that he had come to Japan for *a day*. He was an excellent panelist and moderator, and green_knight said later that this was the best panel of her convention - and of mine, too, so far. It was definitely a lively and memorable panel, and much enjoyed.

Then we collected carl_allery and went out to dinner - back to the funky cheap and cheerful "Italian" spot discovered the previous night. After that green_knight and I went to the Hugo awards, and carl_allery retired to the room again. The Hugos ceremony was fun, complete with Godzilla monsters and spacemen and George Takei as presenter, and "Pan's Labyrinth" won the Hugo for best long dramatic presentation which pleased me greatly.

Then I decided I was feeling tired, after all, and came back to bed. It is currently 11:03 PM here, don't listen to what the dateline on this entry might be telling you, this computer still thinks it's on Pacific Time...

In between panels and suchlike I chatted to a bunch of people, both old friends and new; giggled at a laughing dancing robot someone had set up as demonstration at the WiFi centre at the convention floor; watched in bemusement as official pictures were taken of a Japanese wedding that had taken place in the glam lower foyer of our hotel; discovered weird stuff on offer as food in the Green Room and the consuite - lots of tofu, and strange Japanese confectionery, and such stuff; and took photos - the kids running around the place, often in miniature kimono and their hair in little pigtails, are MOPPETS and absolutely irresistible photo fodder.

Bed. Now. I'm kind of tired and zoned out. Tomorrow it's the rasfc breakfast in the morning, and then another panel and my kaffeeklatsch in the afternoon, and then I'm basically done with the official part of the convention and we can start planning our Monday excursion. It looks like we might be going out to Kamakura, a day trip from here, to see the giant Buddha there - so Monday will be my first serious Photo Day, as it were.

More later - update tomorrow on final panels and suchlike, and after that I'm a fully fledged tourist in a strange land.

Sayonara for now from the land of the soon-to-be-rising sun...

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